I felt helpless as I watched my husband lie in the hospital bed hooked up to all the monitoring machines. What could I do to help him get through this? How would I get through this? The sights and smells of the hospital room were nauseating. I had been in enough hospitals in my life, and this was too much.
Usually, I was the one in the hospital. He had been there time and again for me while I gave birth to our children and went through my various medical crises. He was the one who always knew what to do, and now, here he was, fighting for his life! We would get through this, and we would do it together!
It used to be that people didn't use the "c" word when they spoke of cancer. Cancer was the equivalent of a death sentence. When our oldest daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia (blood cancer) at the age of 3, doctors said she had an 80% chance of survival, and that was only because she was so young. Twenty years later, when my husband was diagnosed with colon cancer, there was no talk of survival rates, rather, removal of the tumor, chemotherapy if needed, and on with life.
The cards, letters, and gifts poured in from family and friends. As each one arrived, I would sit down with him and read about the love, concern, and prayers in his behalf. We cried together as we felt the love through these good people. I put the cards and letters into a binder for safe keeping. Later, when discouragement knocked on our door during chemotherapy, reviewing them brought comfort.
The questions were myriad. What if he didn't survive? What would happen to our family? What if he were disabled? How would we take care of him? What about the cost of treatment, could it be done closer to home? How long would he be in the hospital? What would happen when he did come home? The answers came so slowly.
We still had three teenage children in school. Being emotionally available for my husband meant that someone else needed to see to the children's needs. Friends and relatives stepped in with regular contact enabling me to stay close to my husband. The hours turned into days as gradually his body returned to its normal functioning.
Following the initial hospitalization, my husband felt renewed. The tumor was gone and he had energy once again. Pathology tests indicated that risk was still present, however, and chemotherapy was ordered. We went to the appointments together as often as possible. Just being able to hold each others hands while in the waiting room was a comfort and brought us peace. We knew that whatever happened, we were there for each other. Each time tests were performed, we heard the news of the results together.
The chemotherapy had its side affects, the nausea, fatigue, and mental drain were difficult to experience, both on his part and mine. To see my normally strong, healthy husband lying in bed unable to function was hard for me and the children. As we combined our efforts in serving our husband and father, we were able to find strength in each other, and in the faith we had that healing would be forthcoming.
They say that once a person has cancer, the chances are that it will return. We don't think about that now. We are just grateful that he is alive and well. Our love is stronger than it ever has been, because we weathered this storm, together.